The Hervey Foundation for Cats

The Vacuum

Vacuum chasing cat graphic

The sun rises on a quiet morning. Most of the humans are asleep but it sounds like one is walking around. It’s early – like really early. There are still remnants of the night and you can only just get a glimpse of the sun.

I can hear noises – muttering. The one human is awake and sounds upset. It’s mom. She is walking around the house picking things up off the floor right now and it is a mess. I’ll just hang out on the couch a little while longer.

As time passes, the living room becomes cleaner, and the sun becomes brighter. Mom is still working, but she has moved to other rooms. I’m starting to get anxious. If tradition has taught me anything, once every seven suns mom gets up early and it happens…

The noise. The thing. Deafening and chaotic. Sucking air with a violent passion. Why do they use this thing? I mean… I think I know. The floor usually goes totally barren after the thing comes out to play. How does that benefit anyone? What a strange tradition. What is the point? It’s like hitting the reset button on all the hard work we do as a family to embed our smells into every surface of the carpet. How will other animals know this is our space?

The sound of the thing pierces my eardrums right into my bones. No matter how hard I try, I can’t bear getting close to it as the noise drowns out my thoughts. What is it? It’s taller than any dog I’ve seen, but far slimmer. The humans keep it hidden until they bring it to life upstairs. Then it’s back to the closet again for another seven suns.

Mom hasn’t picked anything up in a while. She’s walking down the stairs. This is it! She’s going to get the thing! Just like last time, and the time before it!

I must prepare. Today is the day I solve this mystery. Today I get close enough to the thing to find out, once and for all, what it is.

I bolt up the cat tree, up on top of the TV console and then onto a bookshelf. Mom doesn’t notice me. She is pushing the thing into the living room and then puts the long tail into the wall. With a swift kick of her foot, the thing roars to life.

The sound is unbearable. It’s screaming noise and the rushing air are overwhelming. I try to shift my vantage point, but mom is walking towards the other end of the room. Rushing back down the TV console and to the couch, I jump down to the floor and hide behind a chair near the wall.

The tail of the thing is right near me so I go in for a sniff. It smells cold – like something unnatural. There is no scent and no marking. Could it be this thing isn’t alive at all?

I reposition myself behind the thing’s tail so I can peer just above where it meets the wall. Mom has turned around and is pushing the thing back towards the chair. It keeps getting closer and closer until the sound of the air rushing into it is feels cutting. I can’t take it anymore.

My legs flex with all their strength and I leap from my vantage point. My foot got caught on the thing’s tail and pulled it right away from the wall.

Suddenly the noise stopped.

Mom is muttering again. She sounds annoyed. The noise has stopped.

The noise has stopped! I’m only two body lengths from the thing! Closer than ever before. In a matter of seconds I’m on top of it. Mom yells something at me but she can’t stop me. This is the opportunity I’ve waited for. I start sniffing.

It smells… terrible. Like everyone’s smells all in one place, but with something else added. There is an unnatural smell as well. Like burning – not a fire, but as if something like dust was heating up against a hot motor.

I slap the side a few times with each paw and nothing. No reaction. What is this? Whatever it is, it sure is disappointing.

Before I know it, the kids are in the room and so is dad. The whole family is giggling and saying this one word over and over. Vacuum.

For a minute I pause and realize I am spread over the entire thing and gripping it with all four legs. In that moment, for whatever reason, I licked it. I licked the vacuum. It was horrible. A sharp synthetic taste. How embarrassing. The family is laughing even harder.

I slide off the thing and run behind the couch. At least mom seems to be in a better mood.

She picks the thing up and takes it back downstairs. Far enough away for me to safely come out from behind the couch.

It looks like today is another day where the humans are all here. Almost time for lunch and a nap.